Warm weather and the appearance of migrating walleye in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers has triggered some early fishing opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
From March 1 to April 30, anglers are reminded the Lake Erie daily bag limit is four walleye. Anglers are also reminded that there is a year round 15” length limit for walleye on Lake Erie and its tributaries to the first dam or designated landmark.
An annual phenomenon in northwest Ohio occurs each spring when a portion of Lake Erie’s walleye population makes their way up the Maumee and Sandusky rivers to spawn in northwest Ohio. Although the fish caught represent a small portion of all Lake Erie walleye, the run brings hundreds of thousands of fish within casting distance of eager shore anglers.
Walleye spawning normally occurs in these rivers anytime from mid-March through mid-April, but the peak activity usually occurs the first week of April when the water temperatures range from 40 to 50 degrees. Moderately-high water also increases the number of walleye in the rivers, especially if river temperatures are warmer than lake temperatures.
The best fishing areas in the Maumee River will be from Orleans Park in the city of Perrysburg upstream to the end of Jerome Road in Lucas County. Sandusky River anglers will find greater success from Brady’s Island to Roger Young Park in the city of Fremont. Fishing is prohibited upstream from Rodger Young Park to the Ballville Dam.
Though most anglers wade in the rivers while fishing for walleyes, some choose to fish from boats. ODNR advises boat anglers to always properly wear life jackets, take precautions against overloading their boats and capsizing, be well dressed to avoid the onset of hypothermia and be prepared to handle any emergency. Boats should never be anchored off the stern.
Special regulations are in effect for Maumee and Sandusky River walleye fisheries during March and April. Fishing is only allowed between sunrise and sunset in specified areas, and treble hooks are prohibited. Anglers may only use a single hook that is no larger than one inch from shank to point. Only fish that are hooked inside the mouth may legally be taken, and any snagged fish must be immediately released. Anglers should refer to ODNR’s regulations pamphlet or contact the Division of Wildlife for additional information.